Politics of Panama

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This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Panama

Politics of Panama takes place in a framework of a presidential representative democratic republic, whereby the President of Panama is both head of state and head of government, and of a multi-party system.

Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the National Assembly. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature. The branches are according to Panama's Political Constitution of 1972, reformed by the Actos Reformatorios of 1978 and the Acto Constitucional of 1983, united in cooperation and limited through a system of checks and balances

Three independent organizations with clearly defined responsibilities are found in the constitution: the Comptroller General of the Republic has the responsibility to manage public funds; the Electoral Tribunal has the responsibility to guarantee liberty, transparency, and the efficacy of the popular vote; and the Ministry of the Public oversees interests of State and of the municipalities.

Executive branch[edit]

Main office holders
Office Name Party Since
President Ricardo Martinelli Democratic Change 1 July 2009
Vice President Juan Carlos Varela Panameñista Party 1 July 2009

The Executive Branch includes a president, one vice-president and government. President and vice-president are elected on a single ballot for one non-renewable five-year term by direct popular vote.

State Ministers[edit]

  • Minister of Agricultural and Livestock Development: Oscar Armando OSORIO
  • Minister of Canal Affairs: Romulo Alberto ROUX Moses
  • Minister of Commerce and Industries: Ricardo QUIJANO Jimenez
  • Minister of Economy and Finance: Frank DE LIMA
  • Minister of Education: Lucinda MOLINAR
  • Minister of Foreign Affairs: Juan Carlos VARELA
  • Minister of Health: Franklin VERGARA
  • Minister of Housing: Carlos Alberto DUBOY Sierra
  • Minister of Government: Jorge Ricardo FABREGA
  • Minister of the Presidency: Demetrio PAPADIMITRIU
  • Minister of Public Security: Jose Raul MULINO Quintero
  • Minister of Public Works: Federico Jose SUAREZ
  • Minister of Small and Medium Enterprises: Giselle de CALCAGNO
  • Minister of Social Development: Guillermo Antonio FERRUFINO Benitez
  • Minister of Work and Labor Development: Alma Lorena CORTES Aguilar
  • Attorney General: Ana Isabel BELFON Vejas
  • Manager, National Bank of Panama: Dario BERBEY
  • Ambassador to the United States: Mario JARAMILLO
  • Permanent Representative to the United Nations, New York: Pablo Antonio THALASSINOS

(Source: CIA World Factbook: World Leaders, Panama)

Legislative branch[edit]

The legislative branch consists of a unicameral National Assembly (Asamblea Nacional), composed of 71 members elected to five-year terms from single- and multi-seat constituencies.

Political parties and elections[edit]

e • d  Summary of the 3 May 2009 Panamanian presidential election results
Candidates Parties Votes %
Ricardo Martinelli Democratic Change, Patriotic Union Party, Panameñista Party, Nationalist Republican Liberal Movement 952,333 59.97
Balbina Herrera Democratic Revolutionary Party, People's Party, Liberal Party 597,227 37.70
Guillermo Endara Fatherland's Moral Vanguard Party 36,867 2.33
Valid votes (turnout 73.99%) 1,558,445 100.0
Blank votes 19,105 1.17
Invalid votes 30,976 1.89
Total votes 1,636,508 100.00
Source: Tribunal Electoral

Judicial branch[edit]

The Judicial Organ administers justice in a permanent, free, and expeditious manner. It comprises the Supreme Court of Justice, the Tribunals, and the judges established by law, according to the constitution of Panama (title VII, chapter 1).

Electoral branch[edit]

An autonomous Electoral Tribunal supervises voter registration, the election process, and the activities of political parties. Everyone over the age of 18 is required to vote, although those who fail to do so are not penalized.

Some background[edit]

In Panamanian history, the dominant parties have been the PRD and the Panameñista (former Arnulfista Party). These parties were founded by charismatic and strong political enemies, Omar Torrijos (PRD)—the deceased father of the previous president, Martín Torrijos—and Arnulfo Arias (Panameñista/Arnulfista), late husband of the ex-president, Mireya Moscoso. Even though these leaders died years ago, their aura is revived by their followers, and they are present in every election.

Panamanian politics have historically been corrupt. Lately, the Panamanian society and press are auditing and fighting for improvements. A sign of this is the lack of young vote in the referendum of October 22, 2006, showing a lack of confidence in Panamanian politics and politicians.

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]